Deloitte: Poland enters the phase of economic expansion

The divergence of economic moods in Poland...

Two Years On: War in Ukraine and Its Global Impact

On February 24, 2022, a full-scale Russian...

Trump’s return to power could spell trouble for all US alliances

POLITICSTrump's return to power could spell trouble for all US alliances

“Trump is a businessman, so he views relationships in the political scene from the perspective of whether it makes economic sense. Such a transactional worldview is deadly for any alliance,” says Americanist, Dr. Bohdan Szklarski. A potential Trump win in the upcoming November presidential elections in the United States is causing concern among allies, in the context of his recent statements questioning the functioning of NATO and Article 5. The expert believes that although it is unlikely Trump could withdraw the USA from the Alliance, he may continue to undermine its legitimacy. “Ukraine might also be worried, because the certainty that the United States will be the main financial support for military aid is in question, and Donald Trump is a harbinger of trouble here,” the expert said.

Returning Trump to power spells trouble for U.S. allies worldwide. But not so much trouble to fear that Trump would withdraw the United States from NATO. He cannot afford this as it’s not his decision to make. However, he can throw a spanner in the well-oiled gears of the Alliance, which he has done before and will continue to do so, claiming that NATO is useless and that the allies do not contribute sufficiently to their financial defense. Allies have moved towards achieving the symbolic 2 percent target, and Donald Trump says: “I will wonder if the alliance makes sense, if it’s worth defending, what America gets out of it.” He views international relations in a classic business, transactional manner, especially in areas of asymmetry, where the United States contributes more, whether it be in finances or commitment, than its allies – Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, or France. Therefore, Trump questions whether being in an alliance with them and assuring their security is worth it for America, says Dr. hab. Bohdan Szklarski, Professor at the University of Warsaw and an expert at the American Studies Center.

With less than eight months remaining until the Presidential elections in the United States, although the primaries in the Democratic and Republican parties have not yet finished, it is known that the race to the White House will be between the incumbent President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, who some polls, despite over 90 allegations launched against him, give a slight advantage. A national survey of registered voters conducted in late February by The New York Times and Siena College showed Biden, with 43 percent support, trailing Trump, who would get votes from 48 percent of eligible Americans.

Analysts believe that a Trump win in this year’s elections is highly likely, causing concern amongst U.S. allies, especially in NATO countries, in light of his recent statements questioning Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which guarantees all NATO members joint defense in the event of an attack on one of them. During a campaign rally in South Carolina, Donald Trump announced that if he is re-elected president, he will not protect those countries from potential Russian aggression that do not spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense. “When America gives its word, it means something. For Donald Trump, it’s just a burden,” commented current President Joe Biden, describing it as a “dangerous and frankly, un-American signal to the world.”

Such business thinking about the world by Donald Trump, this cost-benefit analysis, is deadly for all alliances. Especially alliances with the United States, which are always the party that contributes more. But in return, the USA gets the assurance that when Trump calls Berlin, Warsaw or Paris, someone immediately picks up the phone and asks: “What can we do for you Donald today?” Experienced politicians, who took power after a long career in politics, fully understand that this intangible benefit of an asymmetric alliance, where Americans get to play the part of the one who can demand, ask, is of tremendous value. Donald Trump does not include this value in his calculations because he assumes that politics happens here and now and if necessary, he can go within an hour, talk, lay the cards on the table and solve the problem with China, Moscow or Pyongyang in a business-like manner. But unfortunately, the world is not set up this way. This is why U.S. allies around the world have concerns that his coming to power, his thinking, such transactional thinking, will result in the automatic response of the USA disappearing in crisis situations. America will stop automatically being on the side of the ally, but will start to think, calculate, says Professor Bohdan Szklarski.

Last year, only 11 of the 31 NATO countries achieved the target of 2 percent of their GDP being allocated for defense in accordance with Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty. These included the United States (3.49 percent), Greece (3.01 percent), the United Kingdom (2.07 percent), and several Eastern European countries located near or bordering Russia, including Estonia (2.73 percent), Finland (2.45 percent), Lithuania (2.45 percent) and Romania (2.44 percent). In the case of Germany and France, this was 1.57 and 1.9 percent of their GDP respectively. The leader was Poland, with defense spending amounting to 3.9 percent of their GDP.

In reaction to Donald Trump’s comments in February, NATO announced plans to increase spending by its member countries on defense. This year, 18 of the 31 NATO member states (and Sweden which joined in March, making it 32), plan to allocate the minimum 2 percent of their GDP.

As highlighted by Professor Bohdan Szklarski, Trump’s “transactional” thinking may also affect Ukraine. “The Republicans and Donald Trump have begun to ask: what do we get out of this, why are we there at all, why should we put 60 billion dollars and more into Ukraine, why should we support Ukraine, is this in our key interest, and shouldn’t Europe be the one paying? The Democrats are also asking these questions, but quietly, beyond public scrutiny of such issues. Ukraine can indeed worry, because the certainty that the United States will be the main financier of military aid is in question and Donald Trump is a harbinger of trouble here. Not only because he believes he can negotiate with Putin, but because he will negotiate with Putin over Zelensky’s head and the government in Kiev, or will use them instrumentally, saying: “Listen, your economy is falling, you need investments, what is the point of continuing this war and putting in 50-60 billion dollars so that you fight on the battlefield, when you’re not going to win this war anyway? I offer you for example 40 billion every three years to rebuild the country, build bridges, roads, hospitals, schools. In return, give Moscow what it has taken away from you.” This is how I imagine Donald Trump’s conversation with President Zelenski,” says the Americanist.

The expert believes that Trump’s rhetoric may find a wider audience in European countries should he win the White House race. His candidacy has been publicly supported by Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s Prime Minister, who recently met with the former president in the U.S.

“At the moment, you can hear this quietly, allies are not saying it out loud. Donald Trump does it, and everyone is outraged: ‘how can he, he can’t, it’s not true, we support Ukraine as long as necessary.’ But in silence, everyone looks at the map. And Donald Trump is the kind of politician who looks at the map and says what he sees. His rhetoric, which we perceive as anti-Ukrainian because it strips Ukraine of the certainty of having long-term support, when he is supported by the office in the White House, will strengthen skeptics on the European side, who currently sit quietly and do not openly say that investing more in arms and money in Ukraine makes no sense, because it does not change the situation,” clarifies Dr. hab. Bohdan Szklarski.

This week, the White House announced the release of a new military aid package for Ukraine worth $300 million. This is a small amount in relation to the needs. A much larger aid package, worth over $60 billion for Ukraine, has been blocked by representatives of the Republican Party, and for now, is stuck in Congress. Conservatives are opposed to further funding Ukraine in the face of their own problems – primarily the migration crisis – that the United States is currently facing.

Check out our other content
Related Articles
The Latest Articles